Entries Tagged 'Greg Neitzert' ↓

UPDATE: Are the council meetings turning into a game show?

UPDATE: City Councilor Stehly is proposing a cell phone ban at the council meeting. She is likely basing it on the Rapid City ordinance. She will do a presentation on the proposal at the Tuesday Informational.

I am actively recruiting candidates for the City of Sioux Falls council election in 2020

Unlike the group of rat finks looking for competitors to Stehly in 2020, I will be honest with you; I am actively looking for challengers to NW District Councilor Neitzert and SW District Councilor Selberg and if Stehly decides NOT to seek a 2nd term, we will be looking for a candidate in that race also.

No worries, you have some time. The earliest you really need to announce is this Fall, even though there are some people already talking about running against Stehly.

I have spoken with several people interested in challenging the two. With the parking ramp debacle, the chatter has increased quite a bit, and with all the failures over the past three years due to their rubber stamp mentality, many citizens are ready to turn a majority of the council into a citizen advocacy body and a real challenge to city administrators and big bizzo in town.

As you know, Bruce and I have ran many successful local campaigns (ironically one of our best was Neitzert’s 🙁 and we have had a couple of failures, but I think the 2020 election cycle will be a big one for us. As you know, Bruce and I try to champion candidates that are for two things, ‘Good, Clean Government’. We also don’t care about your partisan stripes, we have helped indies, Republicans and Democrats.

We are willing to sit down with anyone interested to discuss a campaign. While the consultation will be totally free and confidential, I can not guarantee we would take you on, but we are willing to listen and advise.

Sioux Falls Ethics Board Chair warns Councilor Neitzert about his FB joke

Tonight the city council was invited to a presentation and an after party for the Sioux Steel project. I know for sure that 3 city councilors did not attend the after party (you can guess who they are). Stehly asked an advisory opinion last week about accepting drinks and ‘HEAVY’ apps from the developer. The ethics commission couldn’t rule on the opinion because Stehly didn’t present evidence of the possible TIF request. Chairman Greg LaFollette was absent from the meeting, but in the past he has frowned on this kind of gift giving. Neitzert decided to make a joke about it earlier today and LaFollette warned him that it probably isn’t such a good idea. It will be interesting to see how many of the other 5 attended and chowed down on their ‘Heavy’ Tifilicious Snacks. Awaiting photos.

In other ‘Neitzert’ news, I guess he requested that all of the councilors sign a document of confidence in the new Internal Auditor that he would frame and present to Mrs. Nelson. He pretty much admitted that the document wasn’t an ‘official’ but would help in mending bridges. That bridge could have been solid if they would have hired someone with no conflicts.

Oh, and still no word if Shana will be replaced in the finance department . . .

An Open Letter to Sioux Falls City Councilor Greg Neitzert

Over the past year there has been many things said by our esteemed councilor at public council meetings, on Facebook and in the media. It all culminated last week with the special meeting to hire our new internal audit manager and a discussion on the Greg Belfrage show between councilors Stehly and Neitzert in which Neitzert called Stehly a bully and a ‘LIAR’ he also inferred that councilor Starr was a liar to (which is actually a violation of council ethics).

While this was all going on Neitzert kept trying to say that the character of the new city council employee was being questioned, assassinated and denigrated. I still don’t know what he is talking about. In fact if you watch the council meeting or listen to anyone talk about her in the meeting, NOBODY questions her character only her qualifications. Some even state they are NOT questioning her character. If you are questioning someone’s qualifications for a job, that is NOT questioning their character – those two things are polar opposites.

So here are the FACTS that Councilor Neitzert claims people are ‘Lying’ about;

• Nobody on the City Council or during public input questioned Mrs. Nelson’s character. (I can’t speak to random comments on FB)

• While Mrs. Nelson has extensive financial and business experience (12 years) she has NO internal audit experience or supervisor experience.

• Mrs. Nelson has broad conflicts of interest with the city, not just with her husband as a director, but with the finance department she currently works in and a very close family friendly relationship with one of the sitting city councilors.

• Mrs. Nelson was warned in advance (before her nomination was publicly noticed) that the city council wasn’t in full consensus of her employment. She knew there would be a high level of scrutiny. This of course is NOT Mrs. Nelson’s fault, this ‘doubt’ was caused because of a poorly executed hiring process by councilor Neitzert. She still chose to move forward knowing it would be a contentious debate.

• Councilor Neitzert denies he ramrodded the process. He says that most if NOT all resolutions are noticed on a Friday and Voted on a Tuesday. While there is a lot of truth to that, most resolutions are benign, and have full support of the city council. They include things like gifting old equipment to other communities, appointing city board members, allowing SculptureWalk, giving out awards, etc. They don’t usually involve hiring a city council manager of this importance. They also are NEVER brought forward in a special meeting that has a singular objective (ex; golf contract). It was noticed on a Holiday Weekend, with NO attached documents that explained who Mrs. Nelson was or why she was qualified. It was also during a special meeting at 5:30 PM the following Tuesday. Her appointment could have easily been postponed for several weeks so the public could vet her. Just the day after her appointment Neitzert said it would be a full month before she transitioned into her position. So what was the rush? Councilor Stehly had NO choice but to put out a robo-call to inform the public this was coming down the pipe – FAST. While you may have had issues with her verbiage and tone, she did NOTHING wrong, or made false statements. It was ‘ramrodded’ and the parking ramp debacle was ‘controversial’.

• The city’s legal team blew off the nepotism and conflict of interest concerns as being ‘legal’ and since they were legal, in their eyes there were no problems. South Dakota has an ‘F’ rating in government corruption, mostly because we have NO ethics, conflict of interest or nepotism laws (or very weak ones).

• Mayor TenHaken never said whether Mrs. Nelson would be missed or even replaced (this would have been nice to know during a longer vetting process). You would think an employee with this much experience in finance, a person who implemented key finance software, and an employee who won an award (from the past mayor) would be valued by the administration and asked to stay. (I’m hearing from my city hall moles that there was a discussion about it, but since it was a personnel issue, and Mrs. Nelson would be bettering her career, they just let her proceed. If all this happened, I’m not sure why any of that is confidential and couldn’t be shared at the special meeting by the HR department).

• Councilor Neitzert said since he had 6 councilors sign off on her nomination he didn’t feel the need to get a total consensus. Though, during the meeting, councilor Brekke pointed out that most city council employees have a consensus of the entire council before getting approved. In fact, in the 13+ years I have been blogging about the city, the last time I can remember there was NO consensus of the city council was when they voted to terminate City Clerk Owen, and that discussion was behind closed doors with a public vote.

• After 3 weeks of job employment ads mostly online without the assistance of a job recruitment agency, the city got 15 candidates in which NONE of them had audit experience and only ONE of them was a current city employee, with an obvious conflict, and she was chosen. Some people call that ‘inside baseball’ but I won’t speculate any further.

Councilor Brekke suggested to Councilor Neitzert (who is the audit chair) that a broader search be done to find someone with audit experience. Her request was either ignored or rejected.

Councilor Starr, who was part of the hiring committee suggested early on that they hire a recruiter. They said it would cost too much, though Starr pointed out you could get one as low as $5K, and in most cases you don’t pay unless they produce qualified candidates. In other words, no harm, no foul. His suggestion was also discarded.

I think ‘the fix was in’ as soon as Mrs. Nelson turned in her application, and there was no going back from there. Just listen to what Neitzert said on Belfrage, ‘Shana is a Rock Star!’ Great, but why not do a broader search for a qualified ‘Rock Star’? And why totally ignore the suggestions of your fellow councilors? Who is the bully?

While I could care less if Councilor Neitzert wants to act like a Crazed Man-Child in the media, I am truly asking him to stop calling his fellow councilors liars, bullies, self-appointed victims and disrespecting and ignoring their opinions. If you disagree, you simply state that, and move on. If they have good suggestions about the hiring process, you try them. It’s really that simple.

As I have pointed out above, there is only one reason why this process when to Sh*t, and that person needs to take a hard look into the mirror. The only one who truly let down Mrs. Nelson through this process was the one leading the process, City Councilor & Audit Chair, Greg Neitzert.

Councilor Neitzert finally talks about the Internal Auditor nomination

With a 5:30 special meeting vote taking place this afternoon, Neitzert finally says ‘something’ about his nomination, or is this about Stehly?

“This is a shameful and disappointing display of city leadership.”In a recent press release, City Councilor Greg Neitzert responds to this weeks Audit Manager Nominee robo-calls put out by fellow council member – Theresa Stehly.  Neitzert also refers to the calls against nominee Shana Nelson, as scorched earth tactics.

I guess Neitzert is admitting Stehly is a ‘Leader’. He often uses the ‘scorched earth’ argument anytime Stehly does something radical to get the public’s attention. Did she have much of a choice? NO one from the audit committee or from council was telling anyone about the nomination and her obvious conflict of interest.

Original press release:  “While many families were celebrating Easter, they were interrupted by an unsolicited and misleading phone call (“robocall”) from Councilor Theresa Stehly intended to provoke anger and distrust within our community.  We urge citizens to hear both sides before making any judgments.

Not everyone in our community celebrates ‘Easter’. In fact pulling a Christian Religious holiday into the argument would seem to me a reverse usage of ‘Scorched Earth’ tactic. How dare people be bothered by local politics (call went out on Saturday) when they are trying to eat their hams and chocolate Easter bunnies, the shame! The Shame! I do agree to listen to both sides, because anyone with common sense will see that Mrs. Nelson has a gigantic conflict of interest.

Shana Nelson, an outstanding city employee with financial expertise, a background in accounting, budgeting, regulatory compliance and business process improvement, and extensive knowledge of city operations, is exceptionally qualified for the position of Internal Audit Manager.  That’s why the hiring committee, made up of 3 City Councilors (Neitzert, Soehl, and Starr) and one citizen with extensive audit experience UNANIMOUSLY recommended her to the City Council for appointment.

While she has a great resume, she has NO audit experience. She is also married to a city director who runs the parking division and pushed through the parking ramp downtown (that is rumored to be in limbo). Neither of those things really matter. Her conflict lies in the fact she would be in charge of auditing departments that she worked for. And while some would argue this helps her know her way around things, it also makes it much easier for her to ‘skip over’ the bad stuff. In other words, an independent auditor needs to be ‘independent’ and by coming from the administration where she actually implemented their financial software, there will be NO independence from them. An internal auditor is not supposed to be ‘cozy’ with the departments she is auditing. I’m not saying the internal auditor needs to be a total ass-pipe, but they have to be independent and willing to expose fraud and corruption regardless of who is committing it, otherwise there is NO purpose of having an internal auditor that is just going to babysit and be a hand holder. Neitzert has admitted they would use an outside auditing firm to audit the sensitive departments that Nelson would have conflicts with. Doesn’t she have a conflict with the ENTIRE city administration?!

Far from being “ram rodded”, this process has taken months to get where we are today.  An unprecedented amount of communication and involvement of the City Council took place, with the City Council agreeing on a hiring process, and all Councilors given the opportunity to review ALL of the applicants and the opportunity to interview and meet individually with the recommended candidate.  Placing this item on the agenda of the special meeting required SIX of the eight City Councilors – a SUPER MAJORITY – to sign a document approving the request.  Normally only two signatures are required to place an item on the agenda of a regular meeting.  Without those six signatures, we would not be considering this request.

This isn’t about what the council ‘knew’. This is about allowing the citizens to also vet Mrs. Nelson. The public didn’t know about her appointment until last Friday at about 3:30 PM when she showed up on the agenda. There is also NO biographical information about Mrs. Nelson. This is about informing the public, not about executive sessions the council had about her.

These scorched earth tactics are done with no regard for others, and is motivated by a win at all costs, ends justifies the means mentality.

Nobody really wins here. As I understand it, it will take 5 votes to hire Mrs. Nelson. They have the 5 votes. The real loser here is the public, because we have a majority of the council that is willing to hire someone with a blatant conflict of interest.

This could have a chilling effect in our efforts to recruit future City employees who will have to ask themselves why they should put themselves and their families through these types of antics.  This is a shameful and disappointing display of city leadership.”

Recruit city employees? You didn’t ‘recruit’ anyone. She already works for the city. The administration is actually losing a valuable employee in the financial department (and strangely they have NOT objected – and why would they, they now have an insider on the audit side). Recruiting an actual internal auditor would have taken a national search using a recruiting firm to do so, instead of the city’s HR department. Greg is right, this will have a ‘chilling’ effect on the city, because we are essentially saying our internal auditing department is NOT important while having the fox watch the hen house.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Stehly puts out Robocall about the conflict of interest with the new proposed auditor

What I find interesting is that we seem to be in such dire straits that we have to hire her immediately at a 5:30 special meeting that is about funding for the Rose/Lotta neighborhood.

Why didn’t the chair of the audit committee, councilor Neitzert, first put out a press release last week announcing that she was his recommendation, then wait for a regular meeting in May to appoint her? She already has a job with the city, would it hurt for her to wait a couple of weeks so the public can do a little research on the candidate?

This is exactly why Neitzert is ramrodding this through, hopefully to go under the radar of the public before they can see her real qualifications. He learned well from Mayor Bowlcut & Bucktooth. Push everything through quick before the public realizes you are screwing them over.

Greg, if Mrs. Nelson was truly qualified, wouldn’t you have proudly announced your recommendation to the public in a press release before the council agenda came out on Friday? Seems you have your doubts . . .

Commending the Mayor for what?!

Councilor Neitzert in his bizarre attempt to swat down councilors Stehly and Starr for their resolution to make sure the Events Center Campus Book Club meetings remain open, he offered an amendment praising the mayor and the group for deciding to OPEN their meetings, at last night’s city council meeting.

Huh?

First off, the meetings should not have been closed to begin with, if any amendment should have been offered it should have been for censuring the administration for closing the meetings. Even councilor Brekke said that state open meeting laws are a bare minimum of what should be open, or as she said a ‘Starting point’. Local government should go above and beyond those standards.

Neitzert’s amendment was obviously offered to try to make Starr and Stehly’s resolution irrelevant. Councilor Soehl who attends the meetings said that they really haven’t decided how the open meetings will be conducted yet because they are uncertain how they will take public input.

Huh?

State law requires public input at all open meetings, so there is no debate on how you will ‘take public input’. It’s just a matter of when, which most likely be at the end of the meeting.

Stehly and Starr gladly supported Neitzert’s amendment in the end (they knew they had to, to get it to pass, which it did).

Some councilors feared that this would set a precedent on how these kind of task forces would operate, I think that is a good precedent, not bad.

OPEN = Good, CLOSED = Bad.

Neitzert also bragged about how the annexation meetings were held at Carnegie with ample public input. Remember, that was NOT the original intent and after Councilor Stehly, the public and ‘the blog’ complained that the meetings were going to be held in the middle of the afternoon at the DT library where people had to feed meters that quickly got changed after several property owners complained about the meeting situation. Maybe we should ‘commend’ the annexation task force for changing those meetings also. LOL.

 

Sioux Falls City Councilor Neitzert’s unfinished business

Last night during the City Council meeting there were quite a few accolades going towards Greg for his work on updating the Audit Committee ordinance. I would agree, he has put a lot of time into it.

But over the past year Greg has failed to follow through with a number of things he had told me at one time he was ‘working on’ only to find out from other councilors he dropped the issues.

The first one was overturning Rolfing and Erpenbach’s horrible ordinance that would require runoffs in council races. As I understand it another councilor took up that and it will be coming soon to repeal the ordinance and move it back to getting a plurality (34%).

The other was Downtown noise ordinance changes and a possible study. I haven’t heard a peep about this for well over 6 months. It is pretty obvious to most that the Downtown noise levels are a lot higher then the rest of the city (just with the trains alone). This seriously needs to be looked at with more development downtown and the Levitt Shell going in.

So why has Neitzert dropped the ball on these things? I’m not sure, but I have a feeling a few ‘elites’ in the Downtown development community got to him. Not sure why he backed off of Rolfing’s horrible ordinance.

Are Developers paying too much in Platting Fees? Absolutely NOT!

If anyone has been paying too much for NEW infrastructure and development, it has been the tax payers of Sioux Falls. When the 2nd Penny sales tax was raised to a full penny over a decade ago to fund infrastructure expansion, the promise was developers would put in 40-60% into that fund in platting fees. That hasn’t happened, not even close. In fact, taxpayers at one point were putting in over 10x more into that fund then the developers.

Well apparently some developers are now crying the platting fees are too much (about $20K per acre on vacant lots in undeveloped areas). Sioux Falls City Councilor Greg Neitzert talked about it in a recent post on his Facebook page. He seemed to be sympathizing with the developer because they used the tired old excuse that they pass those prices to the consumer of the new development. Well duh. The consumer is getting brand new sewer, water, and roads, why shouldn’t they pay the cost? How is charging me extra in sales taxes fair? What do I get out of it except higher taxes and water/sewer rates?

In about 50% of US cities with populations of 25K or more they charge the developer a 100% of the cost of new development infrastructure, so current users are not subsidizing new growth. This makes sense, because as I have often argued, new growth without a plan to pay for it, makes no sense. Slow growth that is properly funded is fiscally responsible to taxpayers. When developers don’t have enough workers to build their developments, that should tell us that maybe the ‘growth’ isn’t needed. Who are you building and expanding for?

I think we should eliminate platting fees all together and have developers instead pay for the entire cost of new infrastructure. If the NEW development is really truly needed, it will pay for itself. That’s just common sense.

Jon Michael’s Forum with SF City Councilors Neitzert & Selberg

   

They are separate interviews;

Dec 10, 2018 – NEITZERT

Dec 10, 2018 – SELBERG